I believe you will all agree that the digitalization is a trend that has been dominant in our industry for the last two years. During that time, the so-called digital transformers which are designed for connectivity, digitalization and exchange of data and transformer parameters appeared on the market. Interestingly, Siemens called their digital transformer Sensformer, demonstrating the great trust in the concept. They are sending the message that it is not just the transformer with a new functionality, but much more. Dr. Beatrix Natter often emphasises that factories make digital model first, and only when the digital model I.e. digital twin completely meets all the requirements, the physical twin is being manufactured. Apart from added value for transformer users and grid operators, she emphasises new learning possibilities, but also attracting the new generation of engineers by applying such concepts.
According to Miguel Cuesto and Miguel Oliva from ABB, transformer losses account for some 5 % of global consumption – more than the electricity demand of the continent of Africa. This is more than obvious reason for the introduction of eco-design regulations worldwide with the aim to reduce transformer losses. This, however, technologically speaking, changes the game rules instantly.
For over a century, engineers have tried to reduce transformers’ dimensions, finding the ways to reduce the millimetres in the core, windings, phase-to-phase distances, distances to the tank and lead exits, making the reduction of the dimensions of the transformer, after some time has passed, noticeably visible, multi useful, with the key motivation to produce the cheapest transformer.
However, by introducing the eco design regulation, the best transformer is not the cheapest one, but the one that ensures the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO). Since the big part of TCO are the costs of losses, transformers with less losses, which usually means bigger transformers, are being preferred over the other ones. From the aspect of the transformers’ dimensions and size, the situation regresses, bearing in mind that the comeback is not of an evolutionary nature (it is not step by step process), but instantaneous. Of course, the engineers will continue to reduce dimensions whenever possible, but now we have more variables and obstacles to do so, at least until the time the materials are developed to the level where it will be possible to achieve the required lower losses without increasing transformers’ dimensions.
A few remarks regarding companies. Haefely was recently acquired by Pfiffner group. We bring you exclusive interview with the board member Peter Schikarsky, who talks about the acquisition and what it means to Haefely, but also about the digitalization in the field of transformer testing, which Haefely started in 2012. Cai Zixiang from PTTX brings our readers valuable smart manufacturing experiences in the area of transformers core manufacturing. Mitsubishi plant in Memphis, USA, seeks joint venture partners and/or is ready to sell its power transformer division.
In SGB SMIT, former CEO Jan Oelscher was appointed as a member of the Supervisory Board, where he will handle M&A, and the COO Holger Ketterer was promoted to the CEO, which we have already informed you about. That shows the group’s aspiration for growth, including acquisitions.
The conclusion regarding the companies could be summarized into one sentence: the growing companies aim for the global market.
Regarding the market, all the reports we have seen in the last years bring prognosis on positive CAGR, but too many manufacturers do not see that yet.
I write this as Transform event in Hong Kong on the topic of Megacities is taking place. During this event, the leading companies will present innovations and visions that should give today the solutions concerning the key problems of the energy supply of the tomorrow.
We bring you, as usual, a few columns from our esteemed experts. The topics concern measurement policies for optimum asset management, how water affects transformer oil quality and helps monitor its aging – this is where some experts will start arguing, but I recommend everyone to read the article first; then a second part of an overview of a century-long history of dissolved gas analysis, and an overview of evidence-based asset management which is any practice that relies on scientific evidence for guidance and decision-making.
Further more, we bring you articles on dry-type transformers, ester liquid transformer design, transformers for renewable applications, reduction of energy losses in transformers, on-line PD measurement and monitoring, 100 years of connectivity technology development which is now smart and digital enough to enable detailed monitoring of the connection condition, etc.
Nikola Lukenda suggests using isoparafinic oil for better cooling performance.
K.K. Murty writes about the problems big utilities have regarding the storage of all kinds of bushings which are used in the grid and the problems which can arise in case of bushing malfunctions when there is no replacement in the storage, nor the replacement can be bought on the market in such a short time.
Michel Sacotte writes about eco-design regulation explaining that reduction of transformer losses is possible thanks to the improvement of the transformers’ technology, but also magnetic steel performance, such as improved grain orientation and reduced sheet thickness.
If you would like to comment on some of the articles or claims in this magazine, feel free to contact me anytime. I wish you a joyful reading of this, again the biggest yet, regular edition so far!
Mladen Banovic, Editor-in-Chief